Mixed Feelings

BY : Panduki
Category: X-Men - Animated Series (all) > Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 1257
Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men Evolution or any characters contained therein and no profit/money is being made from this story, much as it would be delightful to! My OC, Kiro (a.k.a "Ghost"), however, is definitely mine!

Author's Note: Welcome to my story! Please read, enjoy (hopefully!) and review!



It was strange watching Kiro write so smoothly. Kurt had become used to seeing him falter with his English, puzzling out words one at a time for his assignments. But now, writing in Romanian, he was clearly fluent, and his writing was.. well.. Beautiful. Elegant. Kurt found himself reminded almost of Elvish script, from when he had tried (with some limited success) to read through the Lord of the Rings books.

They had finished their homework about an hour and a half ago, and Kurt had come back upstairs from a private training session with Logan ("To make up for all the ones you missed, elf!") to find Kiro sat at his desk, his pen flowing steadily across a page, several more face down beside him. He had not reacted when Kurt entered, and his violet eyes seemed distant as he wrote. On the other side of his desk was the small packet of letters, and the padded envelope they had come in, from Viscri, Romania. Kiro had written a few brief letters to them during his time here, and the professor had also sent "official correspondence" as he put it, to Mother Agatha to assure her of Kiro's health and well being. But Kiro clearly had wanted to write something more personal to each of the nuns, and was in the process of doing so.

It made Kurt smile as he sat on their bed and watched for a few moments. He felt a bit envious of the nuns. He had never spoken with Kiro. Not yet. Not in any typical sense of conversation. Kiro's English had improved, and he could now write many simple sentences with relative ease as his understanding of written vocabulary improved, but he was still far from literate enough to be considered fluent, in the written sense. He clearly did not have that same difficulty with Romanian, or Latin.

What was his tone of voice like, Kurt wondered? What words did he choose to express himself? What was it like to converse with him in that manner? He pondered this while he sat in companionable silence, and found himself finally grinning and shaking his head at his train of thought. They had "conversed" in the most intimate, personal way possible, in their time together. A bond and understanding that was deeper than the spoken or the written word. It made the "I love you"s that many couples exchanged so casually seem just that. Casual.

Though on that note, Kiro's first written communication to Kurt had been a simple one, made just the other day in fact. But it was one that made his heart melt, and he had given it a place of honor on his nightstand, beside a framed photograph of the two of them together. A simple index card from Ms. Harrison's class, with writing on it made by a permanent marker: "I love you, Kurt." There was even a small picture of a heart drawn. So sappy. So wonderful. His angel.

Kurt was roused out of his thoughts when Kiro stood from the desk to stretch, accompanied by a couple soft pops from his back. The letters he had just finished writing were folded neatly in his hands, and as Kurt watched, he carefully put them in a padded, weatherproof envelope which he soon wrote on in Romanian. The return address, though, made him pause, and Kurt finally announced himself by saying softly, "Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, mein engel." Kiro jumped, and then looked over his shoulder in a fright, before he visibly relaxed at the sight of Kurt seated on their bed. Kurt smiled, "Sorry, mein engel," he then rose and gently went over to touch Kiro's shoulder, and nodded back down to the envelope. Reaching over, he guided Kiro's hand. "Xavier, the professor's name, ja? School.. for.. Gifted.. Youngsters," he said, carefully saying each word as he helped Kiro write it. Soon followed by the proper address: 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Bayville, NY 10032.

Once the envelope was sealed, Kurt and Kiro had gone downstairs to put it in the "outgoing" mailbox. Kurt had assured Kiro that all outgoing mail was handled by Ororo, and she would know how to handle all the arrangements to have it sent to the nuns with due haste. Safely deposited, the two boys made their way down to the kitchen, hand in hand.

It was Wednesday evening, and the week was already half over, much to Kurt's relief. They had another session with Liz on Friday. Their first official therapy session, and Kurt had to admit he was both dreading it and looking forward to it. They had both been sleeping a bit better, though Kiro had still woken up several times during the night in a panicked jolt, and Kurt had held back from touching him each time, no matter how badly he wanted to, instead simply whispering to him, "I'm here, mein engel, I'm right here beside you," to calm him down. Only when Kiro had huddled against his chest, did Kurt finally hug him. He knew that hesitation well. He had felt it himself. That, perhaps, was how he had known how best to help Kiro through it. His own nightmares were less frequent, but still occurring. And they mostly involved Kiro, being tortured and raped, while he was powerless to stop it. Those, perhaps, were the worst.

"Hay broface, Kiki," Rogue called from her spot at the stove. She had a spoon in her hand and was stirring the pot in front of her. Kurt wasn't sure what it was, but it smelled rather nice, if a bit spicy. Being raised in Caldecott, Mississippi, which she had described as a rather backwater place, she had plenty of experience with a mixture of American southern and cajun food. Wednesday nights at the Institute tended to be free-for-alls, with the students welcome to cook their own meals or work out some arrangement between themselves to cook for one another, though the professor had asked that they refrain from takeout or delivery except on the weekends. As late as it was, already almost 9 PM, the kitchen was empty except for Rogue, though down the hall the rec room was rather lively.

Kurt waved with his tail tip and smiled as Kiro waved as well, and Rogue watched as the two of them sat down at the table, perhaps still debating what to do for dinner. "Y'all hungry? Got some gumbo cookin'," she offered. Kurt winced. As much as he loved and respected his adoptive sister, cajun food didn't exactly agree with his stomach, in spite of how delicious it had been when he tried some of it. Kiro, as well, seemed a bit queasy. Rogue had hoped that one of the two might enjoy the more "adventurous" American food items rather than the typical New York fare of burgers, pizza, Italian food, and the like. But unfortunately, Kurt's German upbringing and Kiro's Romanian palatte (and being raised in a monastery to boot) had done nothing to prepare their stomachs for the spiciness of a cajun kitchen.

"Hungry? Yes, but, um, we'd rather not spend the whole night in the bathroom," Kurt said with an apologetic look. Beside him, Kiro nodded. The poor boy had happily tried a bowl of Rogue's gumbo around the time he first came to the Institute, and in spite of clearly enjoying it, he had lasted only about twenty minutes before he had dashed upstairs to use the facilities. He hadn't been able to eat anything else for almost half a day after that without throwing it up as well, even with his healing ability. They had not repeated the incident.

Rogue, however, took it all in stride and shrugged with a friendly grin, "Well, look at the bright side, bro, if the whole X-Men thing doesn't work out, maybe Ah could make a living in chemical warfare?" Kurt groaned and facepalmed, and Kiro giggled softly beside him, before Kurt and Kiro began prowling around the kitchen seeing what they could throw together.

-----------

"There we have it, Kiro. Your full name. Kiro Popescu," Kelly said as she finished updating the computer system and sending a request for new documentation to be delivered to her office. She was a good friend of Charles Xavier who worked at the State Department, and had been the driving force behind ensuring his refugee status had been formalized and that his papers and documents had been completed in a timely manner. It was a proud moment when Kiro finally decided on a surname, and Charles couldn't think of one more fitting. A common enough surname in Romania, of course, but one still that must have had quite some significance to Kiro. It meant, losely translated, "child of the priest," or more liberally, "of the church." And Kiro's eyes had welled up a bit when he had written it down for Kelly (or more properly, Assistant Undersecretary Lawrence), to add to his records.

He had had to bring all of his identification and what few records he had with him to be updated as well, but things were now finalized, and he when he left the office, it would be not only as an official refugee, but now a permanent resident with a green card, much like Kurt Wagner. He was still considered a Romanian citizen, and would be allowed to leave the country at any time if he wished, and the State Department had also been kind enough to contact the Romanian liaison's office and work on having official Romanian paperwork prepared for him as well. The word of two dozen nuns in Viscri, as well as the town elder, vouching for him had certainly been good enough for the government officials there.

If Kiro hadn't already been mute, he would be stunned into silence by the proceedings. He had a full name. An ID card, soon a birth certificate and other papers. The professor had even discussed plans to get him a driver's license and teach him how to operate a car. It was almost too much. He wiped his eyes, and Kelly came around from behind her desk to put a hand on his shoulder, "Oh now, Kiro, please don't cry! Then I'll have to cry too! I have a rule: nobody cries alone in my presence!!" She said, half-jokingly, but it was clear that she meant it.

"Oh, these are happy tears, I assure you, Kelly," the professor said with a smile. He had spoken to members of the Romanian government earlier that morning, in secret while Kiro was going over things with Mrs. Lawrence, to perhaps see if there was any possible way of finding Kiro's birth parents. Unfortunately, the meeting had been rather brief and fruitless. There were simply no records to draw from. Even his name, Kiro, had been given to him by Mother Agatha the night she found him. The boy, unfortunately, did not exist. And there was simply no way of sifting through records that also did not exist, to find any missing children or street urchins, like Kiro surely was, before he had shown up in Viscri. "You must understand, Dr. Xavier," Valentina, his liaison and translator, had said with a frown on her otherwise lovely face, "Transylvania especially is such a rural, timeless place. Many things that we take for granted here, like medical records, drivers licenses, computer systems, even electricity, they just don't exist throughout most of the region. As far as we are concerned, the Sisters are his parents. And I do not think he could have asked for better ones." A sentiment the professor certainly found himself agreeing with, even though it saddened him.

He knew how much it had bothered Kurt, on a certain level, to not know who his "real" parents were. He loved his parents deeply, just as he loved his "extended family" at the Institute, but it wasn't quite the same, and they all knew it, deep down. The professor hoped, nonetheless, that they might find something in the future. Perhaps a memory, buried deep down in the boy's mind. Still waters run deep, as the saying goes, and Kiro's mind was certainly like a calm lake at times, the few occasions he was able to sense him without touch.

"Well, Charles, I guess this is it!" Kelly said after she and Kiro turned from a hug. "You shouldn't be needing anything else now, at least in regards to young Mr. Popescu," she said with a grin, and Kiro blushed with a shy smile. That would certainly take some getting used to. He was used to just being called "Kiro," and he would still primarily be called that. But now he could put a last name on his assignments at school, and on his correspondence to the sisters. It made him feel humbled, and proud, all at the same time.

"Indeed, Kelly, and I cannot thank you enough," Charles said with genuine fondness. They had actually met during humanitarian work in Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic, and that was where Kelly had met the little girl who was now her adoptive daughter, a refugee herself, and hopefully someday soon an American citizen. Kelly smiled and put a hand on Kiro's shoulder, chuckling again as his power flowed through her, "Now remember, Kiro, you want to keep that green card with you at all times, when you're out and about. Right there in your wallet. Just like Kurt keeps his with him, along with his driver's license," she reminded him gently. Kiro nodded, and slipped the freshly laminated card into his wallet, before putting it in his pocket. The rest of his new documents were neatly placed in a document sleeve, to be safely stored at the Institute when they returned.

With fond farewells to Kelly, and a promise to keep in regular touch, Charles and Kiro left the State Department offices side by side, to rendezvous with Ororo and return to the Institute.

-----------

"Poh-pess-cue?" Rogue asked, and Kiro's expression told her she was close, but not quite. "Awright, awright, how 'bout umm... Po-PESS-cue?" Kiro still giggled silently, and Rogue growled, "Hay, at least you HAVE a last name, now. Ah still don't got one."

"That's because you don't WANT one, sis," Kurt reminded her with a grin, and soon received a punch in the shoulder for his efforts, "Shut it, broface!" but she was grinning. They were sitting together on Kurt and Kiro's bed, after coming home from school. Kiro had been released early due to having a meeting at the State Department, and Ms. Harrison had laughed when she got the call from the principal's office earlier that morning. "Well, that's not one I get too often! 'Official State Department business!' How mysterious!" The whole class had laughed good naturedly, and Kiro had blushed before politely excusing himself.

Kurt and Kiro still had some time before their therapy session, so he had asked to see Kiro's new green card, with a bright smile. He had been surprised at how quickly the State Department had put everything through, but the professor had assured him that the process was often expedited in cases of asylum, especially for refugees from regions experiencing war or civil unrest. Things had calmed down considerably in Romania after the government had finally gotten serious about quelling the rebels, and though there had been a lot of bloodshed, it had thankfully been mostly one sided now, on the part of the rebels who were now being slowly driven out of Transylvania altogether. It seemed, for now at least, that the sisters, and Viscri, were safe.

"Y'know, I'm sure you could just look it up on the internet or something," Scott said from where he was leaning against the door, and Rogue waved a hand dismissively at him, "Too easy! Takes all the fun out of it!" She drawled. Kurt waved Scott over from the door, and Scott smiled as he joined them on the bed. "Status report, Mr. Wagner!" He asked, and then touched Kurt's shoulder, his voice softening as he asked, "How're things going..? You guys doing better?"

Kurt still felt nervous around Scott. He could tell that Scott was rather shaken up by his berserker rage that night, weeks ago, and even though Scott had assured him it was alright, he still felt ashamed. But Scott's joke had him smiling, however faintly, and he nodded, before replying, "Ja, kapitan! Sickbay is giving us regular head examinations and they seem to be working!" Beside him, Kiro also nodded, and flashed Scott a thumbs up.

Scott, though, still seemed concerned, and pressed politely, "I know things have been rough. Jean always tries not to listen in, but sometimes she gets little flashes during the night. Broadcasts from you two. Nightmares and stuff, and she can't help but worry," Scott said with an apologetic nod. Unlike Kurt and Kiro, Jean and Scott weren't sharing rooms, but they had such an intimate connection that they might as well have been, when one or the other of them needed to talk.

Rogue, for her part, folded her arms across her chest and huffed, "Well, Ah can't say Ah wouldn't be havin' nightmares too. I just hope that jerk Lance has nightmares every night, thinkin' 'bout Kurt comin' to get 'im," she added, in an obvious attempt to cheer them up. Unfortunately, she immediately regretted it on sight of Kurt's uncomfortable expression, and averted gaze. Even Scott's smile faltered noticeably.

"Aw, bro, Ah didn't mean ta-" Rogue started, but Kurt politely interrupted her with a shake of his head, "No, no, it's okay, sis. I just.. um, I'd rather not go there for another 20 minutes," he said with a cringe. And Rogue then blinked and looked at the clock on one of the nearby bedside tables, before she winced as well and said, "Oh, yeah, that's right.. head examination soon. Y'all's first real one, yeah?" Kurt answered with a nod and a grave expression.

Scott eased off the bed with a nod, "Well, hopefully it goes well. I'll let you guys get ready, sorry. Just wanted to check in," he said with a smile. One that Kurt returned, genuinely, before half-teasing, "It's no problem, Kapitan Best Freund!" On the bed, Rogue made as if to gag herself with a finger before saying, "Bro, it's bad enough you're so sappy with Kiro, ya don't need to be all BFF's with Scott, too!"

The three of them laughed, and Kiro giggled silently, before he tidied away his green card and hopped off the bed to join Kurt. They were still a little early, but perhaps they could grab a drink downstairs before ther therapy session today...

---------

"You believed him, didn't you?" Liz asked, and her words were kind. Sympathetic. But still they stung. Because he knew she was right. Kurt drew a slow breath, and nodded. "Ja.. I.. I 'knew', deep down, that he was right. That I was a demon. A cursed thing. And, I guess I felt I deserved punishment for it," he said, his tail drooping beside him even as Kiro held his hand tighter.

It was their first "official" therapy session, and it had already been like crawling on his belly through the filthy sewer of his darkest thoughts and memories. Liz had been kind, but she had insisted that they had to begin first at where all of this had started, for Kurt. Years ago in the Bavarian countryside, where a man named Klaus had taken it upon himself to be Kurt's personal "savior." A twisted relationship consisting of periodic encounters in the woods, or the fields, where Klaus would find him, and demand that he repent of his sins. And to show he repented, Klaus would make 'requests' of him...

The sick bastard.

Kurt now had nothing but scorn and hatred for the man. But he had died, perhaps thankfully, before anything Kurt could do to avenge himself would have killed him. It had happened about two months before Kurt left his family to come to the Institute, and had taken place during one of Kurt's circus tours. It was both a part-time job and a vacation from home, the circus. It was something Kurt had enjoyed doing as soon as he had first learned to do a cartwheel. And it was an opportunity, however brief, to go out in public as a performer and dazzle with his "magic trick" of porting about and wowing the crowd with acrobatics and other stunts. In a circus troupe full of other "freaks," young Kurt was welcomed with open arms, and Jacob, the Ringmaster, was both a friend and a mentor to him.

That was why he had had no problem coming to the rescue when Klaus found Kurt there, even 50 miles from his home. It was in Kurt's tent that the Ringmaster had found them, Klaus bending the boy over a crate and having his way with him, heedless to the world, and ignoring Kurt's sobbing and prayers. Jacob, the Ringmaster, had not even bothered to shout a warning. He had simply charged over and cold-cocked Klaus right on the side of the head, before proceeding to render one of the most thorough, and vicious beatdowns Kurt had ever seen. Every bit like a papa bear coming to defend his cub.

And it had been enough to ultimately kill Klaus. But not before Klaus had slumped in the back of the tent, eyes full of hatred as he struggled to breath through a crushed windpipe, that was even then filling with blood from a broken nose, "Curse you.. you foul.. demon.. Burn.. in .. hell!!" Those had been his last, hate filled words before he died. Either from drowning in his own blood, or a heart attack, as the police had explained it afterwards. And Kurt, even as the man's filthy seed leaked from him, even as Jacob had wrapped him in a blanket and assured him he was alright now, had felt guilty for causing his death. And perhaps the "corruption" that had made him that way.

He had been almost catatonic for a whole week after the incident, and Jacob, good man that he was, had insisted on bringing Kurt home to his family. All he would say to Kurt's parents was that the boy had been 'viciously attacked,' and he should be kept home for now and given time to heal, or better yet, sent to a 'safe place' for people like him. It was that suggestion, actually, that had caused Kurt's father to search for and finally contact Charles Xavier, and arrange for him to be brought to the school. Yet under Kurt's laughter, under his joy at being able to be "normal" with his image inducer, under the jokes and smiles.. was a badly broken boy who had never quite come to terms with his abuse, or the self-loathing and hatred that had eventually boiled over into also hating Klaus, and anyone else even remotely like him. Kurt had wished, badly, to be able to kill him. To strangle him. To castrate him, even. Such vicious fantasies.

But even then...

"You still felt guilty," Liz observed, the soft sound of her pen writing in her notebook accompanying her. "Guilty for feeling those desires, guilty for that anger, that rage, because you knew it was proving his point, in a way?" She asked.

Kurt sighed, even as he wiped fresh tears from his eyes, and finally shook his head. "... Liz, you are too verdammt good at this," he observed with a painful smile. Despite herself, Liz smiled as well, and Kiro shook his head at the both of them. Kurt had broken down two or three times during today's discussion, recounting several of the more vicious incidents of abuse. An abuse that had gone on for almost a full year. Not unlike what had happened to Liz herself, though tempered with a self-righteous religious fanatic who had used Kurt's own deep Catholic faith against him, convincing him that this punishment was just, and deserved by him. And the more angry, the more upset he got from it, the more the man had used it as "proof" that he was a demon from hell, feeding on such sin. It was a truly vicious, horrific cycle. And it had very nearly caused him to commit one of the gravest sins of all, however it may have been justifiable, when he almost strangled Lance Alvers two weeks ago.

".. can we.. um.. can we take a break?" Kurt finally asked, his voice soft, and Liz could tell he was on the verge of breaking down once again. She nodded. "Of course, Kurt, take all the time you need," she said with a gentle smile. Beside him, Kurt felt Kiro shift closer on the loveseat (they had opted to use a loveseat instead of the two chairs, today), and offer a hug, which Kurt gratefully accepted.

While the two boys comforted one another, Liz took a moment to glance over her notes. Today's session had focused pretty much exclusively on Kurt, and she had shaken her head in sick fascination over the mess that evil man, Klaus, had made of Kurt's psyche, faith, and attitude. It was a wonder that the boy still managed to be so kind, so gentle, so playful, and had fooled pretty much everyone, even Charles Xavier, into thinking this abuse had never happened. He had repressed it so thoroughly, that even he had apparently forgotten about most of it, until these events with Kiro had punctured the lid that had been keeping all of it safely hidden away, like a pustule deep beneath the flesh. It was nothing they couldn't work through, Liz knew. She had actually worked on a couple of cases even worse than this. But it still pierced her heart all the same, to see such a genuinely good boy brought so low, and driven to such rage, because of two very evil men. Klaus, and Lance.

Lifting her eyes to look at the two of them together, Liz smiled. After Kurt nodded to let her know he was feeling better, Liz lowered her notebook and set her pen aside. "Actually, Kurt, I was thinking we might change the subject," she offered. Kurt seemed immediately grateful, and so did Kiro. The two boys leaned forward to look at her across the little coffee table between them, laden with a couple of sodas, and a cup of tea. "It's.. still somewhat related, though it concerns more the two of you than anyone else," she said with a comforting smile.

"Was.. ist es?" Kurt asked, and at a patient look from both Kiro and Liz, he blushed and apologized, "Um, sorry," before he clarified in English, "What is it?" Liz took a sip from her tea and then asked them gently. "When you two are intimate, who is the top, and who is the bottom?"

At their two gaped mouths, Liz began to clarify, "Or rather, who is in charge, so to speak, and who is rec-"

"- Liz! Please! I, um, we know what you mean.. I.." Kurt interrupted her, his tail lashing a bit in agitation, visibly flustered. Kiro just blushed and averted his gaze. Liz found herself chuckling softly. Couples were, understandably, always a bit reluctanct to discuss their intimacy, but Liz had warned them several times already that they would eventually have to talk about it. While Kurt recovered, Liz patiently waited.

"We, um, we don't really.." he began, and faltered, and looked over at Kiro. Kiro, to his credit, pointed at both of them, back and forth, before lifting two thumbs up towards Liz and canting his head at her to see if she understood. Liz thought for a second, and then offered, "So, you both switch, I guess?" Kiro nodded and flashed her a bright smile, and Liz found her heart melting a bit. Good heavens, these boys were so cute together. She only wished she had met them under better circumstances.

"Ja, Liz, we take turns. Um, I guess I end up being 'on top' more than Kiro does, but he knows he is welcome to return the favor whenever he wants," Kurt said with an earnest smile to Kiro, one that Kiro returned with a nod and an affectionate smile in return. Liz nodded as well, her notebook still left aside as their "off the record" discussion continued, "That's actually very good, Kurt. Most male couples aren't like that, I understand," she explained. Kurt and Kiro both looked puzzled.

"Men tend to prefer being "tops" or "bottoms," dominants or submissives. And even in your relationship, you strike me as a bit more of a dominant, Kurt, and you, Kiro, a submissive," she said, and Kurt nodded. Liz explained, while they listened, that in her observations, Kiro was rather submissive and passive, shy and reserved, in most aspects of his life, not just the bedroom, while Kurt tended to be more aggressive and assertive, more confident and outgoing. It was a good balance, she assured them, but at the same time, she found it a good sign that the two were so comfortable, and trusting in each other that there was very little in the way of a "dominance struggle" in their relationship, even on a playful level, and that they were happy just taking turns, and playing off of each other's strengths while helping each other overcome their weaknesses. "Sometimes the typical top/bottom dynamic of dominance and submission can go a little too far, and toe the line of abuse, and I'm pleased to see you two have nothing to worry about in that," Liz concluded.

"In fact, I think that says a lot about how good Kiro has been for you, Kurt, that you are perfectly willing to let him penetrate you-"

"- Liiiiiz.." Kurt said, blushing again as he hid his face in his hands. He was still rather shy about discussing such private things. Beside him, Kiro hugged himself as he giggled silently, even though he was blushing as well. Such an adorable couple, Liz found herself thinking again.

Liz then smiled patiently and corrected herself, "Ahem.. letting him 'take charge' at times. Ordinarily, victims of abuse like that tend to become exclusively tops, and rather aggressive or threatened when anyone even hints at making them a bottom, even if they used to be one exclusively beforehand." Kurt blinked, and nodded. Perhaps Liz had a point. Kurt had often found himself surprised at how comfortable he felt around Kiro, even from the first moment they met. He said as much to Liz.

"Well, love isn't just something you see in movies or books, Kurt. It's real. And you two are obviously deeply in it with one another," Liz said with a wink. "It makes a rather convincing argument all on its own, and gives you courage to overcome a lot of misgivings or issues you might otherwise have." Kurt found himself nodding and smiling, and beside him, Kiro squeezed him in a tight hug.

"Have you two attempted intimacy at all, since our last session?" She asked. This time, Kurt didn't balk, but he did avert his gaze for a moment before slowly shaking his head. Kiro, beside him, did the same. Liz nodded, and once again fetched her notebook before making a note.

"Well, it's good that you two are being careful, and patient. That mutual respect is one of your strengths as a couple, and it's one that I admire," Liz said. After a few seconds of scribbling on the page, she then nodded, before speaking again, "Kiro, we'll take a break from Kurt in our next session and start helping you through your problems as well, alright? This is just your friendly heads-up," she said with a kind smile. Beside him, Kurt felt Kiro tense a bit, but then nod, managing a brave smile of his own in return.

"Once I get an idea of where you both are, in terms of your recovery, I'll start being able to make recommendations on how we proceed," she said. Beside them, the clock chimed the hour, and all three of them looked at it. 6 PM. Their session was over.

"Kurt, Kiro," Liz said, as the boys started to rise from the sofa. Both of them stopped, and sat back down, curious. Liz looked at the two of them, appraisingly, and then nodded, "Considering how you two are doing together.. I actually think it might be worthwhile to try intimacy again," she said with a wink. The two seemed surprised, but also hopeful.

"I've been watching, during our sessions. How comfortable you are already with touching one another, your kisses," she said. She smiled and nodded before continuing, "Remember, it is a bit like playing with fire. You want to be very, very careful and observant with one another. Be sure to communicate immediately if you feel off, or scared, or panic coming on. Stop means stop, after all. But," Liz said, leaning forward to rest her hand on Kurt and Kiro's clasped hands, where they were holding each other's over their knees, "I think it might be time to start seeing how you do. Give it a try this weekend, when you're ready, alright? And let me know on Monday how things went, if you decided to."

Kurt realized his breathing had quickened, and it had only partially to do with Kiro's pleasure-inducing touch. Were they really ready? Was Kiro ready? Kiro seemed nervous, too, but when their eyes met, he smiled, a genuine smile, and nodded twice. It seemed he was willing to try, if Kurt was.

Kurt smiled, and put his other hand over Liz's, before nodding. "Okay, Liz. We'll.. we'll give it a try, this weekend."



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